Customer experience, Podcast

Ep 97: How do you create a radically, personalized change in customer service with Mike McCarron

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Ep 97: How do you create a radically, personalized change in customer service with Mike McCarron

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Problem: How do you create a radically, personalized change in customer service?

Customer loyalty and repeat purchase often depends on how much a customer feels valued. According to this report from Gladly, 63% fall in love with brands because of great service. Because of the lack of in-store experience due to the pandemic, it’s important for customers to feel known by the brand. Many brands fall into the trap of having cookie-cutter customer service. They use software platforms that depersonalize the customer’s experience, making them feel like they’re just another ticket in a workflow or an assembly line problem.

Imagine the consumer experience when they’re greeted by name on the phone call that says, ‘Hey, GQ, I see that you sent in an email this morning about this return or about this damaged merchandise. If that’s why you’re calling, let’s go ahead and take care of that’. That’s a completely different experience than saying, ‘Who are you? How can I help you? Tell me about your order?’ That’s not a personalized experience. It’s a very transactional experience. And that’s really the problem that Gladly solves today.

A seamless customer experience is key

Brands often want to create an omnichannel experience. The problem is not having multiple platforms. The challenge this creates is the fragmented customer experience across these three different channels. Internally, this also presents your team with more inefficiencies because you have more people working on just one problem. Most customers often express the frustration of having to retell their story over, and over again. How can brands solve this problem? The idea is to have tracking of lifetime conversations— essentially the dialogue that you have between the brand and the consumer independent of the channel, but it’s all oriented around the person, not around a case for a ticket.

You can try to create the UI to give it the impression that you have this timeline view. But underlying all that, you have different routing rules for channels. You have different reporting metrics for different channels because you’re bolting everything together. When you start from the very beginning and if you could design a customer service platform around the business to the consumer market, you can solve the things that were most fundamentally broken about the business to consumer service market. That is the lack of personalization. The lack of understanding or context as to the person you’re talking to. If you could solve that problem differently, putting the customer at the center is a fundamentally different and radical way of thinking about it. That has allowed us to really think differently about the problem. And we’re solving a problem in ways that nobody else in the market can solve.

Step # 1: Orient everything around the customer 

Having a people-first approach puts customers at the center of everything you do as a brand. Instead of ticket-based systems, help your customer service team stitch together tickets to see the full picture of the customer’s situation. The old system just duplicates the work. You have one customer calling twice, resulting in two tickets. The lack of streamlined communication takes a long time to solve your customer’s problem. Imagine your personnel having to reference a past conversation with a friend and checking all channels like chat, e-mail, or DMs on Twitter. When every single conversation that you have with your customer is tied to a single platform, your team won’t need to dig all the past transactions of the customer. All they need to do is find the customer in question, scroll over to their timeline and look at the entire history of every single interaction they’ve had with your brand, regardless of the channel.

That lifetime of conversation is essentially the dialogue that you have between the brand and the consumer independent of the channel, but it’s all oriented around the person, not around a case for a ticket. And that is a fundamentally different way to think about service, which in the business to consumer market has never been solved this way before.

Step #2: Bring all the relevant information in one place

Understanding customer lifetime value— how they interacted and behaved on your site, how much they spend on a particular product line, their loyalty points, their recent purchases and preferences helps your customer service team in addressing their concerns in a way they will appreciate. Having a full and intimate view of a customer’s engagement with your brand arms your team with the information to properly engage the customer. How can that help your team?

  • Single page or tab view. This helps them see all the recent purchases, preferences, and tickets for each customer. This allows your team to see how loyal the customer is, what they usually buy, and their preferred color or sizes. 
  • Personalized conversation. By understanding what their last purchase was, it allows your customer service team to facilitate a better conversation such as, asking what’s wrong with the last purchase, offering a different item, or helping them find an item they love. This can even help turn a return into an upsell. 
  • Give preferential treatment to those that deserve it. By knowing all the information, you can route and assign your highly valued customers to your most tenured representatives. 
  • Send them to the right agents. Engaging the customer is half the battle, but securing a sale lies in routing them to the right person to answer their questions. If it’s a big-ticket item or expensive product, they will feel more confident if they deal with the correct agent. 

If you can bring all that information into the customer record inside a customer service platform, it does two things. The first thing it does is it gives the agent an aggregated view across all those potential tabs that they would otherwise haven’t had open of whom this customer is and the value that that customer is bringing to the brand. […] If a customer service team knows that a particular customer has a high propensity to buy a certain product category, then oftentimes customer service interactions can turn into upselling, cross-sell opportunities because they know this customer likes to buy shoes. They like to buy handbags. One of our customers, Tory Burch, in the early days when using Gladly, there was an individual consumer who reached out and said, ‘I bought a pair of shoes and I want to return those shoes’. And under normal ticketing or case management systems,  the agent would be,  ‘Okay, transactional issue’. Return the pair of shoes. Credit the customer. Move on to the next ticket. But what happened in Gladly was that the agent saw that this particular customer had a high lifetime value, and a large percentage of that lifetime value is spent on shoes. And so, rather than just processing the return, they inquired and engaged the customer in a conversation. ‘What didn’t you like about the shoes? Was it the wrong size? Was it the wrong material? Wrong color? Didn’t fit well?’. In that dialogue, the customer service agent ended up selling two more pairs of shoes on top of the one that was returned.

Step # 3: Invest in fast, easy-to-navigate, and intelligent automation

Gladly estimates 50% of customers contact agents daily with common requests, such as tracking orders. Customers expect fast, personalized service even for these minor issues. To fulfill these regular requests, you’ll need to equip your team with the tools they need to maintain the level of support your customers expect. Enabling agents to focus on high-value customer interactions such as closing a sale or de-escalating customer frustration. By automating parts of your customer service process, you increase the ability to respond to more inbound customer requests while reducing wait times. Intelligent and easy-to-navigate automation support will ensure you’re able to help your customers resolve common inquiries at any time of the day. This allows your agents to devote more time to addressing the more complex and pressing issues faster than ever before.

Personalization is, frankly, not putting a bot in place to automate and try to pretend like they’re a person because I doubt that works nearly as well as people would like to think it does.  What you want to automate the things that a computer is really good at store hours, store, location, order status other related things.  And what you’re basically doing is you’re buying capacity on your team by freeing up those resources, to not answer your questions that an automated system can handle. Then with the remaining people you have left in the remaining customers who are coming in, you have that much more capacity on your customer service team to deliver that highly personalized service at scale. That’s because you’ve taken 30, 40, 50% of the other inquiries.

Step # 4: Practice the 60-second rule

Your customer’s time is valuable. When you spend more time finding information, you spend less time responding to their concerns. Your knowledge base is a place where your agents can find ready-to-use answers to questions your customers frequently ask. It’s essentially a library of information about your company’s products or services. A central place for everything and an easy-to-navigate customer page means more time for personalized interactions.  

When you can introduce all that information in one view, you make the first five to ten seconds of that customer interaction personal. You greet that customer by name. You say, ‘Oh, I see that you bought this dress. Or this pair of shoes. Or I see that you have this outstanding email that hasn’t been addressed. Let’s dive right in and solve that’. And within five to ten seconds, you’ve acknowledged the customer. You made them feel valued as a person, and you’re already solving their problems. So now all of a sudden, you’re able to do that in 60 seconds. And when you talk about 60 seconds, every single customer service interaction that happens across hundreds of agents across tens of thousands of calls a day, adds up to be significant time savings, cost savings, efficiency gains. It’s remarkable.

Step # 5: Mimic the store experience by using proactive chat

Pre-pandemic, when a customer is browsing through a store, a customer service specialist can easily come up to them to assist them.  By contrast, online shoppers are generally left to their devices, which places them at risk of leaving without purchasing anything. It’s crucial for brands to be able to engage their online customers in the same way they do in-store. If your brand has tools that enable proactive selling, it can utilize some in-store salesmanship. As a retailer, you’re able to identify and act on customer signals, including products that customers view repeatedly and items they put in their cart but never check out. Sending your customer the right message at the right time will make closing the deal easier.

And so the experience that a consumer had with the brand was entirely dependent upon the quality of the website or the e-commerce experience, coupled with the service experience that they had. So if someone wanted to know, ‘Hey, how does this dress fit?’ Or, ‘what’s the fabric like?’; Or what are the care instructions on this couch? Can I see the couch or the fabric of this couch?’ In many ways, consumers didn’t have an alternative other than to call customer service and customer support to do that. What many of our clients did, those who were using Gladly last year, they recruited store associates and sales associates that were on the floor. They brought them into the contact center, worked from home remotely, just like everybody else was doing. And they became virtual shopping assistants or stylists. Those resources became an extension of the customer service team, which then became an extension of that customer service team’s ability to drive sales and revenue. What they were doing is they were putting specialized, well-trained, very effective sales personnel into a digital shopping service experience.

How can teams maximize the talents of their sales team?

(00:17:58) “That’s something that Gladly calls People Match. It’s about matching the consumer with an agent. You’re saying which two people are best suited to engage in a talk. Maybe there’s a specialist who knows returns. Maybe there’s a specialist who actually does a fantastic job of selling. If someone has requested help with buying, route that person over to that selling specialist team to make sure that they can close that deal. Those are some big examples of different ways in which customer service teams are thinking about not just this transactional bucket of issues, trying to be routed to various teams.”

Mike McCarron Recommends the Following Resources from Gladly:

This interview is part of the How We Solve podcast. To hear more from industry experts who are solving everyday business problems, check us out on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and on our website.

About the guest

Mike McCarron

Mike is Vice President of Customer Success at Gladly. He helps teams free their customer service reps from the constraints of delivering compelling service. Helping build the brand's greatest strategic advantage.

How people can people reach the guest:

Official Website of Gladly

LinkedIn: Mike McCarron


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